One of the five models in our mixed category test of variable-speed rear-handle and right-angle 5-inch random orbit sanders; this tool is one of the two lower-speed, rougher stock-removing models. This dual-mode tool is really in its own unique category since one of its two orbital patterns is not truly random. Rather it is a gear-driven routine that traces a fixed pattern reminiscent of a Spirograph design. Festool calls this action “rotary orbital motion” as it has more of a forced rotating action (similar to a grinder) as opposed to the standard random-orbit motion which moves freely based on centrifugal force slinging the pad outward.
Festool Rotex RO125 FEQ Specs
Amp Rating: 4.17
Orbits per Minute (OPM): 3,000 – 6,000
Rotary Motion RPM: 300-600
Orbit Size: 9/64 inch
Cord Length: 13’-1”
Weight: 4.36 pounds
Country of Origin: Germany
Online Price: $463
The mode switch toggles the tool’s drive between random-orbit and the more grinder-like rotary-orbit action. Since you are essentially shifting gears, it’s important to only use the switch with the motor off to protect the transmission.
This diagram illustrates the motion of a sanding disk in the aggressive rotary-orbit motion. The main difference from random-orbit motion is that there is a forced rotation action.
Finish quality was determined by feel and by eye. To show the scratch pattern created by the sander we made a single pass over clear acrylic (photo above) with 150 grit paper. This is the scratch pattern created in rotary-orbit (heavy stock removal) mode.
This is the scratch pattern created by 150 grit paper in random-orbit (heavy stock removal) mode.
Finish Quality: Fair to Good.
Notable 150 grit scratch marks in small circular swirl patterns visible under magnification in random-orbit mode.
Long arcing cross-grain scratches visible in rotary-orbit mode (as would be expected in this heavy stock removal mode).
Stock Removal: Excellent (in rotary-orbit mode).
Amount of material sanded off maple in 3-minute trials with fresh 100-grit disk (rotary-orbit mode): 20.5 grams
Amount of material sanded off maple in 3-minute trials with fresh 100-grit disk (random-orbit mode): 8.9 grams (click here to compare to other models tested)
Comments and Ratings
Good to Very Good overall.
Excels at hogging off stock more quickly than any other 5-inch random-orbit sander, but don’t look to this tool to create a very fine finish. Its slow pad speed isn’t optimized for that use and the manufacturer has different sanders dedicated to that purpose. The main reason to use this tool is for its powerful rotary-orbit mode.
Lock-on thumb switch, difficult to push off at times, especially with gloves on.
Speed dial: Fair to Good; Dial located a bit out the way along the side of the tool, requires moving one hand from its grip position to adjust.
Grip: Good; Always requires both hands; Decent rubber grip surface for the front hand (at its well-balanced position over the head of the tool), but the smooth rear grip could benefit from a little rubber too.
Fair to Good
Pretty smooth in rotary-orbit mode, but displayed persistent chattering vibration in random-orbit mode that couldn’t be tamed at any speed level. I felt like I just couldn’t get the knack of operating this tool effectively in its finer sanding mode.
Lands on work: Fair to Good
Despite an efficient pad brake, the lower disk speed makes this tool grab a bit more than others in random-orbit mode. In rotary-orbit mode, the tool lands more smoothly and predictably.
Tracking: Fair to Good; slower disk speeds of its random-orbit mode make this tool dig in harder at the edges which causes it to pull rather willfully, especially on uneven surfaces. In rotary-orbit mode the sander would buck and wobble up off the board violently at times if not kept perfectly flat on the work. I found it easier to control if I moved at a steady, deliberate speed, much slower than I use with fine finish sanders.
Dust container: N/A
Vacuum: Very Good.
35mm o.d. “Euro” vac hose fits very securely over ribbed dust port and ducting the air through the handle means there’s no hose hanging over the work like there is with the other coarse sander in the test.
For more convenient storage or replacement, the sander features a twist-off cord. This also makes the tool compatible with the combined vac hose/power cord sets sold by Festool in other countries (In the US, the combination hose and cord doesn’t meet UL standards). The green button at the bottom of the handle is a spindle lock that makes it possible to change out the sanding pad by hand without any tools.
Note the ribbed dust port sized for a European vac hose.
Variable-speed motor; special 9-hole hook-and-loop sanding pad that fits disks unique to Festool. (Other 5-inch disks will fit, but the dust holes will not line up.)
Electronic motor controls provide soft-start and motor braking functions.
Has dual-mode action, spindle lock button for tool-free pad changes, and an extra-long removable power cord.
One other nice feature is the pad edge guard--essentially a bumper which holds the front of the tool the proper distance away from a vertical surface to keep the edge of the sanding pad from digging into that surface. It can be popped off when not needed to improve the view of the sanding pad.
Comes with: Plastic Systainer case.
Optional accessories: Harder and softer sanding pads; backing pad for polishing bonnets.
Similar models: 6- and 3 1/2-inch pad versions.